Why and how to train your core
There's more to a strong core than having washboard abs. This group of muscles plays a role in everything from posture, to power, and strengthening your core can make a huge difference to your functional strength and endurance, as well as your performance in the gym.
In this article, we cover what the core is, why it's so important to train your core, and the best core strengthening exercises to try.
WHAT IS THE CORE?
The core is the group of muscles around your stomach and back. These muscles work together to stabilize the spine and pelvis.
The Rectus Abdominals
Commonly known as the abs, this is the main muscle group people think of when it comes to the core. The rectus abdominals are the muscles behind the 'six pack', but they also play a vital role in allowing you to bend forwards, breathe forcefully and to keep your internal organs in place.
The Internal Obliques
These essential muscles help the torso flex and rotate to each side. They also work alongside the diaphragm to help you breathe out forcefully.
The External Obliques
As well as flexing and rotating the torso, these large muscles also flex the torso from the sides. They are the strongest of the abdominal muscles.
The Transverse Abdominis
Often referred to as the deep abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis protects the internal organs and helps increase our abdominal pressure which allows us to lift more weight.
THE BENEFITS OF A STRONG CORE
Getting visible abs is extremely difficult, as it requires both a low body fat percentage and the right genetics. This means people tend to neglect training their core. While compound exercises like squats, or any exercises which require the body to remain stable (like cable machine exercises) do work the core to some degree, performing core-specific exercises will really help to reap the benefits of a strong core.
Some of the benefits of strengthening your core include:
Poor posture is a really common problem, especially for anyone who spends a large part of their day sat down. Having a strong core plays a huge role in good posture, particularly when it comes to maintaining the right pelvis alignment. Research has shown as many as 85% of people suffer with an anterior tilted pelvis, where the pelvis is rotated forward. The main cause of this is a weak cause, specifically the rectus abdominis.
Reduce or prevent back pain
Having a weak core is a major cause of back pain. When the core is weak, other muscle groups have to work extra hard to keep your torso stable. This can lead to muscle imbalances, strains, and even worse posture!
Improve athletic performance/ better lifts
In order to perform at your 100% and generate the maximum amount of force with the upper or lower body, both the spine and pelvis must be stable. This is best achieved when the core and glutes work together harmoniously.
A strong and stable core allows athletes to perform twisting movements powerfully and safely. It also helps to stabilize the body to provide a better foundation for your lifts at the gym. Even if you don’t consider yourself as an athlete, working on your core is important in improving your workout performance - and your results!
Increase balance and stability
Training your core helps the muscles work together to stabilize the pelvis and spine. When the core is stable, the rest of your muscles can move more efficiently.
HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE EFFECTIVELY
If you're looking for a ready-made core workout, try this 10-minute core workout. It's short but very effective - expect to feel your core muscles burning by the end!